Federal spending on an unsustainable course

Published 7:00 am Thursday, February 5, 2015

For 40 years, the independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has provided economic analyses and cost estimates to assist lawmakers when considering legislation. One of its major reports every year is a budget and economic outlook for the next decade. Released just a few days ago, the new forecast warns that federal spending is on an unsustainable course.
Gloomy Outlook for Debt, Economic Growth
Among the most significant takeaways from CBO’s latest estimates is the long-term rise in deficits, debt, and interest payments, which are expected to skyrocket after 2018. Unless things change, in 10 years the federal debt will be a staggering $27.3 trillion, and annual interest payments will grow to more than $800 billion. By 2025, merely paying interest on the federal debt will consume more of the budget than every other expenditure except Social Security and Medicare.
Unprecedented debt levels do not bode well for future economic growth. CBO’s projections were similarly discouraging for growth and economic output, which is anticipated to dwindle to 2.2 percent per year from 2020 through 2025. As CBO notes, this is significantly less than the average growth seen during the 1980s and 1990s.
Obamacare remains a drag on the economy and a substantial source of spending, costing $2 trillion over the next decade. According to CBO, the health-care law will force 10 million Americans off of their employer-sponsored insurance plans, breaking one of the President’s promises and causing some 31 million people to remain uninsured.
More Big-Government Spending From White House
The CBO outlook comes just days before the President is scheduled to submit his budget to Congress. This will be only the second time that President Obama has released a budget by the deadline, which is the first Monday in February. Required by law, the White House budget is traditionally seen as the start of the budget process, offering Congress recommendations as it prepares a budget resolution of its own.
Early news reports on the President’s budget, however, indicate that he will again kick the can down the road instead of proposing practical budget cuts. In keeping with the big-government rhetoric of this year’s State of the Union address, the President is expected to ignore spending limits and instead suggest tax increases to pay for his priorities.
Forcing Americans to send more money to Washington is not the answer to our country’s debt problem or weak economy. Middle-class Americans should not shoulder the burden of this Administration’s spending addiction.
Budget Committee Ready to Confront Challenges
I am pleased that new Senate Budget Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) is committed to making tough decisions about how to rein in spending and lower the deficit. As a member of the committee, I look forward to his leadership as we craft a budget resolution this year. Taxpayers deserve a blueprint that eliminates government waste, slows the growth of entitlement programs, promotes accountability, and mirrors their priorities. American families work to balance their budgets, and Washington should, too.
The CBO report is a clear indicator of the dire financial situation we will face if we do not confront our budget challenges without delay. Today, every American owes $56,000 on the federal debt, which has surged to more than $18 trillion. This is not the time for political theater or grandstanding. Seriously addressing this long-term problem has become an urgent and moral imperative for current generations and those that follow.

By Senator Roger Wicker

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